Do you enjoy exploring caves? Do you have an interest in glow worms? If this is you and you’re visiting the North Island then you must explore the Waitomo Glowworm Caves.
How did the Waitomo Caves get its name? The name Waitomo comes from the Maori words: Wai: water, Tomo: hole or shaft. Perfect name for the Waitomo Caves especially as the local Maoris knew of these caves centuries ago!!
There are different tour options you can choose from to explore the caves. There is even a tour option which includes the nearby Hobbiton Movie Set (Lord of the Rings). It was school holidays whilst we were there so the Hobbiton Movie Set was out of the question. It was all booked out. Big tip if you are wanting to visit the Hobbiton Movie Set book well in advance.
Prior to our cave tour we explored the nearby Ruakuri Bushwalk in Waitomo Forest.
It was an easy 30 min return walk through the beautiful forest. The forest along the river was lush and green. Hard to believe that we were walking in an area which held so much adventure underground that we were very soon going to experience. Perhaps this is the reason why it’s one of the countries top 10 walks!
As we were walking along we bumped into a group of people which had just come out from exploring the caves with their black tyre tubes. They were buzzing with adrenaline!! With this our excitement began to grow more and more!
Our Adventure to Waitomo Glowworm Caves
Dads an adventure buff, whilst Mum is too, she was a little apprehensive as to which tour to go on. Mum can experience claustrophobia.
After persuasion from Dad and talking to the lovely lady at the ticket counter Mum agreed to go on the 3.5hr Waitomo Caves Black Labyrinth Black Water Rafting Experience.
7 Things We Encountered on the Waitomo Caves Black Labyrinth Black Water Rafting Experience
- Exhilarating fun
- Crawling through small places
- Jumping with our tyre tube over cascading water
- Floating along in our tyre tubes
- Admired thousands of glow worms as we floated through the cave
- Experienced the coldness of Ruakuri Caves river and streams
This experience was truly awesome for my parents. Unfortunately I was not able to tag along as cameras and belongings are not allowed. Due to this I stayed back and was kept in a locker with my parents belongings and looked after the camera. So sadly this also means there are no photos to share. You can buy a photo pack of your adventure which also have the glow worm pictures.
My parents had a truly exhilarating time. Even though my Mum was concerned how she would go with her claustrophobia she had loads of fun. They were provided with wetsuits and gumboots to help protect them from the freezing cold waters and a head torch to help light their way. Before the tour began the guides explained to Mum what she would encounter to assist her with her claustrophobia. This was really good as it allowed Mum to be prepared for the only small area which was at the beginning of the tour. She conquered it, so proud of her, as was Dad!!
There were 12 people on the tour. They left the ticket area on a mini bus which took them to the nearby Waitomo forest where everyone was provided with a black tyre tube. They had a test run of jumping backwards with their tyre tube off a small pier into the cold river. Have no fear it was not a high jump. Just high enough to make a big splash and get wet!! This in itself was fun. You should have heard the screams!!
From here they walked to the cave entrance and the real fun began. With their tyres flung across their shoulders they entered the Ruakuri Cave.
They squeezed their way through tight areas, floated down the river, jumped off rock ledges into the flowing river below and walked across the rocky river way to continue floating in their tubes whilst they looked up in dark cave to experience the wonders of the glow worms. They were really impressive. It was such an awesome experience. Not only did they witness the glow worms but also the stalactites and stalagmites.
To come out of the 12-14 degree Celsius caves knowing that a local Maori and English surveyor were shown the entrance to the cave in 1884. It is said the local Maoris were aware of the cave approximately a century prior to this!!
They were disappointed when the tour came to an end as they had so much fun. After being driven back in a bus full of chatter and laughter they headed straight for a hot shower and some yummy hot soup and bagels which were provided. This went down really well!
If you don’t like the idea of getting wet there are other tour options for you to take.
What We Thought of Waitomo Caves Black Labyrinth Black Water Rafting Experience
It was a truly magnificent exhilarating experience. One which my Mum tested her fears. Not only did she conquer her fear of claustrophobia but also her fear of jumping into the water from heights. Growing up she wasn’t one to jump from piers, diving boards or from high places into waters below. Although on this tour you didn’t dive from high places you never the less were required to jump backwards off ledges into waters below which were 9 feet, higher than Mum had experienced. The guides had advised her if she wasn’t comfortable to do the jump they could take her another way. Mum was determined to conquer her fears and have some fun!! Go Girl!!
The guides were totally awesome they were knowledgable, friendly, funny and sure did make Mum feel comfortable and everyone had a blast. Yes, its a must do, fears or no fears, go have some fun!!
From Waitomo Caves Black Labyrinth Black Water Rafting Experience our next destination to explore was Raglan. We stayed the night in Hamilton to break our journey.
Waitomo Caves Location
39 Waitomo Village Rd, Waitomo Caves, Otorohanga 3943, New Zealand
Other Places We Explored On The North Island
Take a look at the below links of other beautiful places we explored on the North Island. Note these are just a few of the amazing places to take an adventure. We still have so many places to explore!! If anyone tells you that 10 days is enough to explore, think twice!! Suggest you take at least 3-4 weeks.
- Lake Taupo
- Rotorua including Redwoods Forest, Waimangu Volcanic Valley, Rotorua Gondola
- Thames the start of the Coromandel Peninsula
- Coromandel Peninsula including Hot Water Beach, Catherine Gorge
- Karangahake Gorge, southern end of the Coromandel Peninsula
Can you share any experiences at the Waitomo Caves or any other caves you have explored? We would love to hear about them.